A Y6 Steam Tram as Toby

The modified picture above is taken (with permission) from the July 1961 Railway Modeller, as part of an article by Rev Wilbert Awdry about how he built his own model of Toby to run on the Ffarquhar Branch. The preamble describes how "Toby" originally became part of the Railway Series. So without further ado, in the man's own words: ...:

My son and I first met a J70 tram-engine at Yarmouth in 1951. She was exceedingly dilapidated, but nevertheless there was a certain dignity about her as she trundled along the street ringing her bell. The guard walked solemnly ahead carrying a red flag. We tracked her to her lair at Vauxhall, and made friends with her driver, who allowed us to explore her "innards" and take photographs.

There and then I decided to try to persuade the Fat Controller to procure a tram-engine for our railway. This was surprisingly easy. By a "coincidence" he too had met one on his holiday, and had been equally fascinated. So when "Thomas" was in trouble with the police for running along the quarry line beyond Ffarquhar without cowcatchers or sideplates he had his answer ready. "Toby" arrived in the autumn of 1951 and the story appeared in 1952.

The pictures of "Toby" in the books were based on my photographs and Skinley's blue-print. They therefore more or less resemble a J70. I started planning a model for my own line, but had no chance to build it till we moved to our present parish near Wisbech in 1953. Meanwhile I read up the subject and found there were two types employed at Yarmouth, Lowestoft and the Wisbech and Upwell line. They were the 0-4-0 Y6, introduced in 1883, and the 0-6-0 J70, introduced in 1903. Both looked similar in general, but there were differences in detail. As my model was to be powered by a Romford motor bogie, it struck me that the four-wheeled prototype would be more suitable.

We arrived at Wisbech in January 1953, only to find that the last Y6 had been removed and scrapped in 1952. However, I scrounged some old photographs locally, and the authorities at Stratford (E.R.) kindly gave me a photostat copy of the 1883 working drawings, from which I prepared my own ...


J70 Steam Tram
Toby (a J70) takes a drink. From the LNER Encyclopedia.

According to Richard Marsden's very informative LNER locomotives site, the J70 0-6-0 was originally the GER Class 53, designed by James Holden and introduced in 1903. These replaced the Y6 (GER G15), the extremely similar-looking 0-4-0 from 1883 by TW Wordsell. The steam trams were built for the whimsical Wisbech and Upwell Tramway line in fenland Cambridgeshire, built mainly to carry fruit and vegetables, and part of the pre-grouping Great Eastern Railway. The line survived nationalisation and the steam trams worked it in British Railways colours until 1952, when they were withdrawn. A full, detailed and fascinating history of the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, with notes on its Railway Series connections, is now available from the LNER Encyclopedia.

The loco spotted by the Reverend on that day at Yarmouth in August 1951 was no. 68219. However, the Rev also saw J70s at Emneth, a station on the W&UT. This was soon after he had met the Rev Teddy Boston, then a curate, who had become friendly with the drivers and was allowed to drive himself; he offered the Rev Wilbert a footplate ride. Although the last four J70s were scrapped in 1955, a petrol-driven replica is available for hire here. Another has been built at the East Anglia Railway Museum near Colchester, which has also reconstructed a "Henrietta."

From Tony Grigg's notes on "The Island of Sodor":
Number 7 "Toby"
Toby is a J70 Class tram locomotive with side plates and cowcatchers, which were introduced in 1903 to replace the earlier Y6 engines. Designed by James Holden for working the docks at Great Yarmouth, Ipswich and Lowestoft, they carry a mere 15cwt of coal and only 625 gallons of water. Toby needs to stop for water at Elsbridge on each journey as otherwise it would be too long for him to complete. Toby (presumed to be No. 68221, built in Stratford in 1914) arrived in 1951 from the then recently closed Wisbech and Upwell tramway for use on the quarry line between Ffarquhar and Anophia. Toby is still based at Ffarquhar for this and other duties on the Ffarquhar branch.

Toby arrived early in "Toby the Tram Engine" (1952)

The Rev. Awdry's Model of Toby
Toby of Ffarquhar layout (used with permission Railway Modeller) The Rev. Awdry's model of Toby (used with permission Railway Modeller)
Toby as he appeared on the Rev Wilbert's Ffarquhar Branch in the December 1959 Railway Modeller. (used with permission of RM)

And the same model showcased in the July 1961 issue of Railway Modeller. (photo used with permission of the publishers)

Toby enjoying retirement on the Ffarquhar layout in the Rev.'s study in Tywyn in 2006. Photo: Martin Clutterbuck

The Reverend writes about this model in the 1979 Thomas Annual as follows: (with thanks to Ryan Healy)

"I built TOBY from thin plywood and card in 1953 after the book about him had come out. His frame is of brass pieces measured out, cut to shape and soldered together. His cowcatchers are made from household pins. He is mounted on a Romford motor bogie and in the general way he works well too. But he also is getting old, so I always take along a 'Spare Toby' made from a K's kit in case of emergency."

Thanks to the publishers of Railway Modeller, visitors can now read all about Toby's history and construction as detailed in the July 1961 issue ONLINE

On Ffarquhar at the Awdry Study in Tywyn in 2006. Photo by © Martin Clutterbuck.

Modeller's Corner
Hornby model of Toby available from Amazon's U.K. website Bachmann model of Toby available from Amazon's U.K. and U.S. website
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Collector's Corner
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